Search Engine Optimisation is evolving and this Periodic Table of SEO factors can help you understand what helps and what hinders your SEO efforts.
How To SEO Your Content
Visitors come to your website because of its content, so make it easy for them to find. Whether it’s written or visual, make sure your content is SEO friendly:
Make Content the Focus
“If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.”
Your page layout, particularly how the real estate above the fold is used, makes a difference. If your content is buried amongst ads, it takes away from the user experience. Google’s made changes to its page layout algorithm so pages that push content down below the fold by ads being placed above the fold won’t be ranked as highly.
Provide content visitors will want to share. Write well, write often, write authoritatively. This doesn’t mean peppering your copy with keywords just to boost your SEO ranking! Whatever you’re writing, it should read like a coherent body of text rather than a string of words. It means researching popular keywords and selecting the keywords & keyword phrases that are most relevant to you & that you want visitors to find your content with and using those keywords in your content.
Note: If a keyword or phrase isn’t on your website, it means your website won’t come up when people search using that keyword or phrase. Having the keyword included in your meta tags or in your AdWords campaign doesn’t impact organic listings.
Don’t ignore the alt tags. Use keywords and keyword phrases in your image alt tag to boost your SEO. Instead of using alt=logo, use alt=company name logo.
Take it out of Flash
If your website’s content is embedded in a flash file, search engines will struggle to index it. Animation & movement is great, but you can use HTML5/CSS3, Jquery etc. to animate & put your text in plain, simple html so search engines can find your content.
Your content will never appeal to everyone, so understand your target market & produce relevant content for them. This will lower your bounce rate & increase the likelihood of repeat visits.
How To SEO Your Architecture
Use Header Tags
Great content can be easily lost by poor design & page architecture. Use headers to draw out titles & subtitles within your content, this will also help the readability of your page.
Meta Description & Title
Make sure you use your meta description field to describe the page & include a call to action. A well written meta description tells the searcher what they’ll find on the page & prompts them to visit. Also, include some keywords in your meta titles.
Take out the ‘Click Here’ Links
Internally link your website. Wikipedia is a great example of this because mentions are links to the relevant Wikipedia page. It helps visitors navigate your content better & using descriptive word links is an SEO plus. So stop using ‘click here’ & start linking the relevant keyword phrase.
Keywords in the URL
If you’re using something like WordPress, ensure URL rewrite is turned on. It takes ?98798 & makes it text so it’s SEO friendly & easier to share. Make your page URL keywords – instead of page1, page2 etc, make sure the page url describes the content.
SEO & Social
Have you noticed that if you’re signed into your Google account & Twitter & then do a search on Google, pages that have been +1′d by people in your Google account or tweeted by people you follow on Twitter show up on page 1? Google’s taking social shares into account on the basis that, if it’s of interest to someone you know, it’s more likely to be of interest to you – a bit of algorithmic word of mouth.
Social media is a great way to share content – so make it easy. Add social sharing buttons to your website so visitors can click & share across their networks from your website. Tweeting a web page often means Google will index it within 24hrs – not a bad way to get indexed quickly. Don’t go over the top though, there are loads of social networks out there & having a pop up box to share your content across all of them can look silly & daunting – so stick with the networks your target market is on.
SEO // Toolkit
- Google Insights for Search – a free tool that tells you popular searches (based on the search terms you enter) & rising searches. Understanding what people are searching for will help refine your keywords strategy.
- SEO Factors – an earlier blog post from 2011 about the top 4 factors that influence your SEO ranking
- Understanding Google’s search engine algorithm – a summary of how the Panda algorithm has changed page rankings
- The five essential elements to focus on – a great article with 5 tips to SEO
My SEO Equation
Not all SEO factors are created equal. If I were to put together an SEO super-compound with 3 ingredients, I’d use Cq + Ss +Hh (Content quality + Social shares + HTML Headers).
Why? I believe quality content comes from doing your research to understand the audience & what’s relevant to them & using appropriate language. If you have quality content, visitors are more likely to share it. Making it easy for visitors to share your content & actively sharing your content on social networks drives visits & makes your content accessible to users who use search boxes within social networks to find things rather than search engines. Finally, HTML headers & subheads make it easier to skim the content, find relevant/interesting bits & immediately assess if I want to take the time to read it. Great typography just makes content look better.
What would be in your SEO super-compound?